BREAKING NEWS Man indicted for fraud on fallen Huntsville Police Officer Billy Clardy III’s memorial fund Full Story

FDR had a military parade, too

"I want a parade like the one in France," President Donald Trump ...

Posted: Feb 8, 2018 9:10 AM
Updated: Feb 8, 2018 9:10 AM

"I want a parade like the one in France," President Donald Trump reportedly said to a military official, who passed that information on to The Washington Post.

Trump had been the guest of French President Emmanuel Macron on Bastille Day in July 2017, and after attending the parade he enthusiastically exclaimed that it was "one of the greatest parades" he'd ever seen. And so, he wanted to preside over an equally spectacular one in Washington -- not unlike a 7-year-old who wants his birthday party to be as big and elaborate as his friend's. It would cost millions of dollars in citizens' hard-earned tax money (money that could go instead to veterans' hospitals), and military officials said they were unsure how to pay for it.

And yet, it wouldn't be the first grand military parade in Washington. There was one in January 1941, for example, after Franklin D. Roosevelt's inauguration to an unprecedented third term in office. That past spring all the European democracies, with the exception of Great Britain, had fallen to the relentless Nazi forces, and in Asia, Japan had extended its reach into China.

It was a year before Pearl Harbor, and the nation was not yet at war, but FDR knew he would have to educate Americans and convince them and Congress that the nation must nevertheless be prepared and mobilized for war. He decided a military parade would be a dramatic display of the nation's willingness to fight to preserve its way of life and its determination to protect Great Britain from the Nazi onslaught.

And so, after his inaugural address, a grand military parade took place.

First came a platoon of Washington motorcycle police, and behind them rode Gen. George C. Marshall, the Army chief of staff, on horseback. Then came military bands, units from the Navy, Coast Guard and Marines, along with West Point cadets and Annapolis midshipmen. They were followed by scout cars, motorcycles, trucks with anti-tank guns, anti-aircraft guns, field guns and cannons. Military planes soared in formation overhead.

But more enduring and less expensive was FDR's brief inaugural address before that military extravaganza. In his speech, he explained that a nation was like a person; it had a physical, intellectual and spiritual life. Its body must be clothed, fed and housed and its mind kept informed and alert. But a nation, "like a person," he said, "has something deeper, something more permanent, something larger than the sum of all its parts." No single word could name it, "and yet we all understand what it is."

For the United States it was something he called "the democratic aspiration," a living faith, a quasi-divine purpose in national life, an ongoing quest for freedom, justice, equality, happiness. If that "spirit of America" were killed, "even though the nation's body and mind, constricted in an alien world, lived on, the America we know would have perished."

He believed that in the months and years ahead, under the threat posed by the Axis powers, Americans would need to make sacrifices to keep the spirit of America alive. They would also need to practice lives of kindness and generosity that included a sense of responsibility for others -- for the neighbors they knew as well as for the people they didn't know.

It was an important and profound speech, although there was no memorable catch phrase like "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" that he famously declared in his first inaugural address in the bleak winter of 1933.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves if we risk losing that "spirit" of America under President Trump. A military parade orchestrated merely to entertain a childish president is a futile and meaningless spectacle, unless it is accompanied by a real understanding and acknowledgment of America's vital military, moral and humanitarian role in the rest of the world.

This was the kind of essential role that America played when it became the arsenal of democracy in World War II and when, after the war, it created the Marshall Plan to restore health, democracy and prosperity to a war-ravaged Europe -- the opposite of the nativist, nationalist, isolationist and counterproductive mentality of "America First."

Name-calling, rash threats and empty displays of military prowess are no substitute for the compassion, generosity, decency and dignity that have kept alive for almost 2- centuries the precious quasi-divine purpose of our nation. In his first inaugural address in 1789, George Washington memorably said, "The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government are staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people."

America is still an ongoing experiment -- let us work to keep that "sacred fire" and the moral and ethical "democratic aspiration" alive.

Huntsville
Few Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 82°
Florence
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 76°
Fayetteville
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 78°
Decatur
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 79°
Scottsboro
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 75°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 89927

Reported Deaths: 1580
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson11859225
Mobile9086191
Montgomery6249143
Madison501425
Tuscaloosa397463
Baldwin321023
Shelby305032
Marshall296630
Unassigned273453
Lee250540
Morgan222315
Etowah193026
DeKalb170113
Elmore160237
Calhoun15609
Walker147063
Houston131912
Dallas128823
Russell12331
St. Clair121712
Franklin119620
Limestone119613
Cullman114111
Colbert109312
Lauderdale107112
Autauga102420
Escambia97915
Talladega91813
Jackson8283
Chambers82138
Tallapoosa81478
Dale78520
Butler75235
Blount7363
Chilton7106
Coffee7095
Covington70920
Pike6607
Barbour5635
Lowndes55224
Marion54224
Marengo52014
Clarke4869
Hale45926
Bullock43811
Perry4294
Winston42911
Wilcox4059
Monroe3914
Randolph38810
Bibb3743
Conecuh37310
Pickens3679
Sumter36118
Lawrence3100
Washington31011
Macon30913
Crenshaw2863
Choctaw27412
Henry2453
Cherokee2427
Greene24211
Geneva2320
Clay2175
Lamar1982
Fayette1745
Cleburne1211
Coosa922
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 110636

Reported Deaths: 1092
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby21492288
Davidson19400202
Rutherford607253
Hamilton566147
Knox403236
Williamson326922
Sumner317870
Unassigned29544
Out of TN278314
Wilson207221
Montgomery173411
Bradley171310
Sevier17135
Trousdale15726
Putnam154413
Robertson145017
Hamblen122913
Blount11207
Tipton11069
Maury10815
Washington10662
Madison91213
Bedford87110
Macon83213
Sullivan8069
Hardeman80111
Lake7490
Bledsoe6721
Loudon6533
Fayette6208
Anderson6075
Dickson5951
Gibson5672
Dyer5557
Cheatham5485
Rhea5021
Jefferson4962
McMinn48920
Lawrence4786
Obion4354
Henderson4310
Carter4275
Lauderdale4236
Coffee4172
Warren4034
Hardin4017
Cocke4001
Cumberland3796
Haywood3745
Greene3715
Monroe3669
Roane3642
Smith3633
Hawkins3624
Giles3519
McNairy3165
DeKalb3051
Franklin2864
Weakley2763
Marshall2652
Lincoln2541
Hickman2310
Carroll2283
Crockett2263
Claiborne2210
Henry2160
Wayne2161
Campbell2131
Marion2054
White1943
Chester1932
Johnson1720
Grainger1690
Polk1651
Decatur1612
Unicoi1380
Overton1341
Union1200
Cannon1180
Jackson1061
Humphreys1053
Scott1040
Grundy1012
Meigs980
Benton971
Sequatchie940
Morgan821
Hancock761
Fentress740
Perry740
Stewart700
Clay610
Lewis561
Houston550
Moore450
Van Buren330
Pickett221

 

 

Community Events